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Blasting A/C in the Arctic

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  • npat1
    Blasting A/C in the Arctic One area is 5 to 11 degrees above average In this northern territory, temperatures are rising, hunters are falling through ice and
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2006
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      Blasting A/C in the Arctic
      One area is 5 to 11 degrees above average

      In this northern territory, temperatures are rising, hunters are
      falling through ice and offices are using something they've never used
      before--air co

      By Howard Witt
      Tribune senior correspondent
      Published September 29, 2006


      RESOLUTE BAY, Nunavut -- They never used to need air conditioners up
      in the Arctic.

      But earlier this year, officials in the Canadian Inuit territory of
      Nunavik authorized the installation of air conditioners in official
      buildings for the first time. Artificial cooling was necessary, they
      decided, because summertime temperatures in some southern Arctic
      villages have climbed into the 80s in recent years.



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      Signs of Arctic climate change


      Ice-covered areas of the Arctic seas have been declining at the
      highest rate in a century of recorded observations.


      Mosquitoes were sighted in Resolute Bay last year for the first time.


      Experienced Inuit hunters are falling through the ice along routes
      they once traversed with ease.


      Polar bears are hungrier and venturing more frequently into Inuit
      villages.


      Air conditioners are being imported to Canadian Arctic territory of
      Nunavik.




      Inuit families in the region never used to need to shop in grocery
      stores, either. But the Arctic seas that always stayed frozen well
      into the summer have started breaking open much earlier, cutting off
      hunters from the seasonal caribou herds on which their families depend
      for sustenance.

      And experienced Inuit hunters, as comfortable reading ice conditions
      as professional golfers are reading greens, had seldom fallen through
      the ice and drowned. But this year in Alaska, more than a dozen
      vanished into the sea.

      "These are men used to running their trap lines, people who know the
      area well, yet they are literally falling through, they are just
      gone," said Patricia Cochran, executive director of the Alaska Native
      Science Commission in Anchorage and chairwoman of the Inuit
      Circumpolar Council. "The ice conditions are just so drastically
      different from all of their hunting lifetimes."

      It took a while, but global warming, the relentless greenhouse gas
      phenomenon that most scientists believe has altered climates across
      much of the rest of the world, appears to have finally breached the
      northern polar redoubt. And the effects on aboriginal societies trying
      to hold fast to traditional ways have been jarring.

      The people of this far northern Canadian hamlet of 250 used to hunt
      eider ducks every summer, using the meat and eggs for food and the
      soft feathers for clothing. But this past summer was the third in a
      row that the Inuit couldn't reach the nesting grounds because the ice
      around them was too thin.

      The seals have changed, as well.

      "Now when we are trying to take the fur off the seals, it's very hard
      to do," said David Kalluk, 65, a village elder and veteran
      hunter. "It's like it's burned onto them. Maybe this is because the
      sea is warmer."

      Wayne Davidson, the resident meteorologist in Resolute Bay for 20
      years, says monthly temperatures throughout the year are 5 to 11
      degrees higher than recent historical averages. For example, Davidson
      said, the average daily temperature last March was minus 13.4 degrees
      Fahrenheit, compared with an average of minus 24.2 degrees from 1947
      to 1991.

      "Science for us in the Arctic is experience," Davidson said. "Resolute
      used to be a horrible place to live as far as weather is concerned,
      absolutely brutal. Now it's much milder."

      NASA report on ice melting

      The signs of warming in the Arctic are not merely anecdotal. This
      month, NASA climate experts reported with alarm that for the last two
      years, Arctic sea ice has been melting in summer and winter at rates
      far higher than anything seen before.

      Summer sea ice coverage in 2005 was the smallest recorded in a century
      and was not much larger this year, the NASA researchers said, and
      winter coverage in 2005 and 2006 was 6 percent smaller than the
      average over the last 26 years.

      The recession of ice coverage in the winter is especially alarming,
      experts said, because it suggests the fundamental climatic engine that
      creates Arctic ice may be impaired.

      "The greenhouse phenomenon is becoming more apparent in the Arctic,"
      said Josefino Comiso, a senior research scientist at NASA's Goddard
      Space Flight Center in Maryland who studies Arctic zones. "It has been
      late. But a winter warming signal is finally coming out."

      Not everyone is convinced that global warming is to blame for changes
      observed in the Arctic and elsewhere. A handful of scientists and
      conservative politicians doubt the widespread theory that humans are
      causing climate change by burning increasing amounts of fossil fuels,
      which release heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These
      skeptics attribute the warming patterns around the world to natural
      fluctuations in the Earth's highly complex climate systems.

      Greenhouse effect doubted

      "There isn't a lot of doubt that the temperature has gone up about a
      half-degree in this century, and there isn't a lot of doubt that
      carbon dioxide has increased, but that's where the agreement ends,"
      said Richard Lindzen, a professor of atmospheric science at the
      Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a leading critic of global
      warming theory.

      "Where there is argument is over things like: Does the Arctic
      represent global warming as opposed to natural variability?" Lindzen
      continued. "The Earth is always warming or cooling. Industrial output
      has nothing to do with global warming. There is no evidence so far
      that we've gotten beyond natural warming."


      But a majority of climatologists around the world harbor no such
      doubts, experts say.

      "The basic question of global warming is no longer a subject of
      dispute in the scientific literature," said Naomi Oreskes, a professor
      of the history of science at the University of California, San Diego,
      who reviewed 928 scientific papers about climate change published
      between 1993 and 2003 and found none challenging evidence of human
      contributions to global warming.



      E-mail this story

      Printable format

      Search archives

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      Signs of Arctic climate change


      Ice-covered areas of the Arctic seas have been declining at the
      highest rate in a century of recorded observations.


      Mosquitoes were sighted in Resolute Bay last year for the first time.


      Experienced Inuit hunters are falling through the ice along routes
      they once traversed with ease.


      Polar bears are hungrier and venturing more frequently into Inuit
      villages.


      Air conditioners are being imported to Canadian Arctic territory of
      Nunavik.




      "The discussion has moved on to how quickly will things change in the
      future, the rate of ice melting and differing climate models," Oreskes
      said. "There's almost nobody left anymore who doesn't accept that
      global warming is real."

      It certainly feels real enough to the people of Resolute Bay. From
      their perch on the edge of the Barrow Strait, they watched this summer
      as the waters of their rocky bay melted and filled with drifting
      icebergs--a view as depressing as it was picturesque, because in years
      past the water remained frozen solid enough to traverse aboard sleds
      and snowmobiles to their traditional hunting grounds.

      "The heat of the sun is different now," said Kalluk, the village
      elder, trying to make sense of the changes. "I think there is global
      warming, because snow that has never melted before is starting to melt
      now."

      ----------

      hwitt@...

      - - -

      SIGNS OF ARCTIC CLIMATE CHANGE

      Ice-covered areas of the Arctic seas have been declining at the
      highest rate in a century of recorded observations.

      Mosquitoes were sighted in Resolute Bay last year for the first time.

      Experienced Inuit hunters are falling through the ice along routes
      they once traversed with ease.

      Polar bears are hungrier and venturing more frequently into Inuit
      villages.

      Air conditioners are being imported to Canadian Arctic territory of
      Nunavik.

      http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-
      0609290169sep29,1,1322189.story?ctrack=1&cset=true
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